The aroma of the kitchen impregnates every item I wear. At the end of the day, that distinct smell brings me closer to home and to meaningful memories.
SPLIT, Croatia — I grew up in Argentina, with Croatian roots on my mother’s side. This allowed me to access a scholarship program for Croatian descendants. After finishing my studies in Communication at the National University of La Plata, my brother and I sold everything, and we made the move.
In time, we developed a business selling Argentine empanadas – the first of its kind in Croatia. People recognize us by the aroma; guests always comment on the smells when they come in our restaurant.
When I get home at night, the aroma follows me on my clothes. It impregnates every item I wear! At the end of the day, that distinct smell brings me closer to home and to meaningful memories.
Our first few months in Croatia proved difficult. We faced a language barrier and struggled to understand the fine print in contracts. We faced bureaucracy, but Argentinians are used to finding solutions. In time, we learned the language, sought citizenship, and became more comfortable.
Building a business abroad comes with its own share of difficulty. Each culture has its own customs and dynamics. You have to understand them while developing your ideas. We continue to learn every day.
Today, we have three partners at Morfar. I manage the premises and my two colleagues cook. We do everything “from the lungs,” a phrase which means we put the body and the mind into our craft, while enticing the nose.
As people pass by the restaurant, they become attracted to the smell. The aroma of cumin – a very special seasoning in Argentine empanadas – remains incomparable. It has become our signature trait. You can also smell the aroma of wine circulating the environment. This, combined with the aromatic waft of freshly baked empanadas creates nostalgia and makes us feel closer to home.
The Balkans have a product similar to our empanadas called burek. Many cultures have a version of this kind of street food. At first, people looked at our product with a bit of hesitation, but when they dared to try it, they became addicted. We have grown a regular customer base of Croatians who shop with us several times a week. We take the time to explain to our customers what empanadas are, and how we consume them in Argentina. They always come back for more, encouraging us to continue with our venture.
My partners and I put almost everything we had into Morfar. The encouragement and enthusiasm we get back from the people mean so much to us.
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